Interferon—The First Quarter Century

Thomas C. Merigan, MD
JAMA. 1982;248(19):2513-2516. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330190067040.
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THERE has been interest in the therapeutic potential of interferon since Isaacs and Lindenmann first described this substance in 1957.1 However, the supply of interferon for clinical trials has been very limited until the last year or so. Ironically, the short supply of material during the past quarter century still allowed more fundamental background knowledge to be accrued for interferon than for any other therapeutic agent previously studied in man. Many studies using in vitro and animal models of human disease were undertaken, but the number of clinical studies was few, and these were small in scale. These studies used crude material and, as reviewed here, showed biologic activity of interferon in man by showing a beneficial effect in a limited number of viral and neoplastic diseases. The most striking effects were obtained in animals when interferon was applied early in the disease process, that is, either before the


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